Has there ever been a better time to be a corporation? I doubt it. Corporations might disagree, and we’re all familiar with corporate lamentations regarding the increasingly challenging web of federal regulations (Dodd-Frank; the FCPA) they supposedly struggle to navigate. Yet, it’s hard to dispute that these are good times for big business, and “Exhibit A” could easily be the utter dearth of criminal prosecutions for corporations that are guilty of pollution.
Funding Woes. According to a recent study published by the Crime Report (TCR), criminal prosecutions of corporate polluters are becoming less and less common by the day. One explanation for this phenomenon is the dwindling funding allotted to the government entity responsible for the protecting the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In case you missed it, Congress has made a recent habit of slashing EPA funding. (Yes, this is the same do nothing Congress that is currently contemplating spending American tax dollars on a lawsuit against the President.) Unsurprisingly, these cuts have come primarily at the hands of Congressional Republicans, whose most recent transgression has been the approval of a 9 percent decrease in EPA funding, but President Obama has done some damage as well (the President’s proposed 2015 budgetlowered EPA funding by some $300 million). And this is not just a 2014 trend. As Congressional Republicans boasted when the federal government nearly imploded (again) in January, they have successfully cut the EPA’s funding by 20 percent since 2010.
One result of these money troubles is a serious lack of manpower. For instance, the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section is equipped with just 38 prosecutors, and the EPA’s Environmental Crimes Section has just 200 agents. These are the folks who are given primary responsibility for monitoring environmental violations across the country. Yet, with such a pitifully understaffed roster, the federal government’s capacity to pursue America’s worst environmental offenders is seriously hampered.Click to continue reading »